Shamrock Rovers welcome Cork City to Tallaght tonight for the second time this season (kick off 7.30pm). The Hoops come into this evening’s Setanta Sports Cup semi-final first leg clash, boosted by their blistering 7-0 league win over Bray last Friday night. That win ended a run of five consecutive league draws for Rovers. Rovers reached this semi-final having scored seven goals in the last round of the Setanta Sports Cup. They beat recently deposed Irish League champions Linfield 7-2 on aggregate in the quarter final.
“We were excellent on Friday [against Bray] and the players deserve every credit for the result and the performance,” said Hoops boss Trevor Croly. “It was also obviously great to get so many goals. The performance was the result of a lot of hard working coming together.
“But we realise that we need to be performing like that on a consistent basis for it to mean anything. We are also conscious that this is a very good Cork side we face on Tuesday. But it’s a semi-final and we’re very keen to get the win over the two legs and get into the final in May.”
Trevor Croly has his three first choice centre-halves available for him for the first time in a month. Jason McGuinness returns to the match day squad having picked up an injury against Bohs in Dalymount Park last month. Rovers captain Pat Sullivan has played a number of games over the last month at centre back as Croly has juggled defensive pairings due to McGuinness’ injury and recent suspensions for Ken Oman and Derek Foran. It was Foran who scored an injury time equaliser in the last league clash with Cork City that kept Rovers’ unbeaten league run at the start of the season going.
For the Bray game, Croly changed systems from the 4-1-2-3 formation he has used all season to a more traditional 4-4-2 and it paid dividends with their impressive 7-0 win. With Rovers facing a trip to in form Derry City in the league on Friday, a team who are unbeaten since their opening day defeat to league leaders Sligo, Croly is expected to change a number of personnel from the team that won so comprehensibly in the league last Friday. Rovers only defeat this season was in their very first competitive game of the year. They lost to Coleraine 1-0 in Tallaght in the first leg of their Setanta Sports clash but are unbeaten in their last 12 games since that defeat.
Cork City’s late concession cost them a win on their last visit to Tallaght Stadium. Leading 1-0 thanks to Colin Healy’s well struck goal but playing with 10 men for most of the second half, the Leesiders allowed Rovers to score in the 94th minute to claim a point. A draw tonight would not be the worst result for Tommy Dunne’s team as they go into the first leg of this semi-final missing a number of key players due to injury (Kevin Murray and Dan Murray), suspension (Gearóid Morrissey) and with doubts over a number of players including Colin Healy. They come into the game on the back of a 2-0 away defeat to run-away league leaders Sligo Rovers.
Tommy Dunne, speaking to CorkCityFC.ie, hopes to keep the tie alive for next Monday’s second leg. “We have two tough trips - firstly to Sligo on Saturday and now going up to Shamrock Rovers in a semi final,” said Dunne. “We are going to go and give it everything we have, as we did in the Sligo game, but I think the most important thing for us tomorrow is to keep the tie alive and bring it back to Turner’s Cross next week.”
Darren Dennehy, who was sent off in the 1-1 in Tallaght last month, returns to the City squad following his suspension as his club look to get one foot in the final of the competition they last won in 2008. Recently crowned Irish League winners Cliftonville were beaten by Cork City in the first round of the competition with the Leesiders winning the quarter-final against Crusaders 4-1 on aggregate.
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Cork City, having withdrawn from the 2009/10 Setanta Sports Cup due to the club’s liquidation, are unbeaten in their14 games of this competition. Their last defeat was at the same stage of the competition in 2007 when they lost a semi-final against Linfield.
Cork City’s Denis Behan holds the record, along with Peter Thompson (Linfield), for goals scored in this competition. He has scored 11 goals to date from 25 appearances, one more than Rovers’ Mark Quigley who is the only player to score for four different clubs in this competition (St. Pat’s, Dundalk, Sligo and Shamrock Rovers).
Along with tonight’s other semi-final, between Drogheda United and Sligo Rovers, this game in Tallaght will see the introduction of Additional Assistant Referees for the first time for a domestic game albeit a cross-border competition. Rob Rogers and Tómas Connolly will be officiating behind the goal lines. This is not the first time additional assistant referees have been used in Tallaght. The last time was during Shamrock Rovers Eurora League campaign when they took on Tottenham Hotspur in Tallaght in December 2011.
Shamrock Rovers 8/13; Draw 12/5; Cork City 5/1.
Injured: David Elebert, Thomas Stewart, Conor Winn.
Injured: Brian Lenihan, Kevin Murray, Dan Murray.
Doubtful: Neal Horgan, Danny Murphy, Shane Duggan, Colin Healy.
Suspended: Gearóid Morrissey.